Volume 13, Number 9 January 6, 2006

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Election sparks survey, lobbying on higher ed.

OTTAWA – Each party in the federal election has been asked to outline its commitments to higher education and research in an open letter from the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC).

Sent on behalf of AUCC’s 90 members, the letter asks each party leader, including Gilles Duceppe of the Bloc Québécois, to answer eight questions on their policies for investment in four key areas of post-secondary education: capacity and quality; affordability, outreach and support; international education; and graduate studies and research.

“With Canadians seeking access to a high quality, post-secondary education in record numbers, our universities face increasing pressures in these key areas as they work to produce more graduates, more innovative ideas, and more international linkages than every before,” said AUCC board chair and Trent University President Bonnie Patterson in a news release announcing the letter. “In today’s global race for talent and ideas, a continued commitment by the federal government to increased investments in higher education and research will be critical to the country’s future productivity and competitiveness.”

The leaders were asked to reply to the survey by Dec. 30 and their responses will be released to the public Jan. 11.

As part of its activities during the campaign, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has prepared a resource kit to help member associations become involved.

“Our ability to influence the political agenda during this campaign is directly related to the ability of our associations to get involved,” according to CAUT president Loretta Czernis in a news release. “It’s important for those of us committed to improving public post-secondary education in Canada to get involved so that all the candidates hear a common message in this election.”

The election kit contains information for local groups on developing strategies, making contact with candidate by various means, hosting an all-candidate debate as well as sample questions for candidates. Getting media coverage of these efforts is also discussed in the kit. Tactics include letters to the editor of local media as well as op-ed pieces detailing why post-secondary education should be an election issue. The kit encourages CAUT members to “be creative” is planning “events and actions that can be specifically organized to grab the attention of the media”.

For more information, contact communications.office@usask.ca

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